2009 is best described as a year highlighting Sakhi’s exemplary strength. In marking its 20th anniversary, Sakhi was able to remark on two decades of dedication to changing perceptions of domestic violence in our community, a process that would have not been possible without its amazing volunteer pool.
The volunteer program has always been an integral part of Sakhi. Last year Sakhi had 27 new volunteers complete its annual volunteer training and 94 of these trained volunteers offered their time to fulfill Sakhi’s mission to end domestic violence. Compare Sakhi’s remarkable volunteer statistics to the 2007 National Network to End Domestic Violence report: it’s research found that only 33% of the organizations who participated in the report had more than 20 volunteers and out of those merely 18% had a volunteer program consisting of 40 or more individuals. What makes volunteering at Sakhi so special are the numerous options volunteers have available for donating their time and skill set; Sakhi relies on volunteers to assist with community outreach, direct services and development activities. Our pool of volunteers reflects the diversity within Sakhi: from college students to established professionals in their fields from all walks of life.
The network of partnerships that have grown through Sakhi’s volunteer program have only magnified the necessity of its work. Volunteer Coordinator, Santushi Kuruppu, compiled volunteer hours in 2009 which totaled more than 2 years and 10 months worth of in-kind support (1028 days via 8,223.5 hours of service). However, numbers alone do not describe the visible commitments our volunteers make daily. Santushi states, “during the [staff] transition last year our volunteers proved that they were the strength behind Sakhi. Whenever we reached out to [them] they would always make time to come in and help. Many of them dedicated regular daytime hours. Their support and commitment to Sakhi’s work is truly inspiring.”
Much of the success of the volunteer program, especially during 2009 is attributed to the quality of Sakhi’s passionate volunteers: “Working with our volunteers and interfacing with them on our ongoing activities, I find they bring a personal intensity which is reflected in the commitment to this cause,” states Santushi.
Jagy Patel, shares her experience working as an active volunteer for the past year and a half. She states, “[Sakhi] has provided me with the opportunity to think like an entrepreneur and work towards turning my ideas into reality. As a volunteer I have been exposed to a whole host of things such as brainstorming ways to make money, working to develop a database to help Sakhi’s operations become more efficient, and training a new class of incoming volunteers.”
Jagy’s involvement has been like that of many others: multifaceted. Sakhi encourages its volunteers to wear different hats to diversify their volunteer experience in order to develop new skill sets. This philosophy has helped volunteers, staff and survivors grow towards becoming “a better person… as a friend, mentor, coworker and family member,” according to Jagy.